A stunning cover to go with a stunning story. I love learning history I wasn’t familiar with before. I love time slips when a lesson is learned from the past. I love it when an author dares to write something a bit different from typical wartime fiction. Just when I thought I’d read all the WWII fiction I cared to, this book comes along, not about Nazis, not about soldiers, not about the Holocaust, although all those things are mentioned because all those things affect the characters greatly. This is a story about how the people who were affected, the innocents, dealt with what they experienced for the rest of their lives.
Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker working to rescue Jewish children in France during the war. Decades later Addie Hoult is looking for the Tonquin family because her mentor is dying from a genetic disease. But these women from the different storylines and time periods also need rescuing in ways they don’t truly grasp until the end of the story. All the characters are deeply wounded from both what they did and what was done to them. Restoration doesn’t come easily, but there is hope.
I think it’s fair to say no one does time slip novels better than Melanie Dobson. Many times I prefer the historical timeline to the contemporary one but this one had me totally engaged with both. I highly recommend you read this one!
*I was given a copy by the publisher for the purpose of review without compensation or expectation. I have given my honest opinion.
Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.
Tell us something about where you live.
My name is Marian Creighton. I work in Connecticut, but since my dad unexpectedly fell into a coma, I’m visiting Canterbury England to be with him. He’s left me a mess of a mystery to solve. Not only that, but he seems to be in some kind of danger, and it’s putting me in danger now too.
Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?
I’m a research scientist who works in the pharmacokinetics department of Mercer Pharmaceutical’s research. I’m completely devoted to finding a cure for the rare genetic disease VHL, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, which killed my mother and is now slowly killing my younger sister. My dad has also been searching for a cure. But he’s also been obsessed with his research into what he calls “the ultimate cure” which he believes is related to the original Tree of Life and is found in ancient holy water.
Who are the special people in your life?
As I arrive in Canterbury to be with my dad, I know I have the support and help from one of my dad’s colleagues, Harrison Burlington. I also have a good friend in Jasper Boyle, one of my co-workers in Connecticut. And finally, my sister Ellen is one of my closest friends.
Interestingly enough, since ingesting a slight amount of residue of ancient holy water, I’ve been seeing a fiercely handsome man who lives in the past. Our paths seem to overlap, and I have a real connection with him.
What is your heart’s deepest desire?
My heart’s deepest desire is to find a remedy that can help cure my sister Ellen. However, I’m skeptical of my dad’s methods. I feel his long-time fixation with ancient holy water and its healing properties are both crazy and a waste of time, especially when I learn that he believes the holy water can make people cross time.
After having visions of the man from the past, I can’t deny that my dad’s theories have some merit and my determination grows to test his theories further. However, I soon realize I’m not the only one interested in his research. A break-in and a kidnapping convince me that I must take the plunge and follow my dad back to the Middle Ages in order to save both him and my sister.
What are you most afraid of?
As I prepare to leave for the past, I’m afraid I might not succeed in finding the holy water that might be able to heal my sister Ellen. I don’t want her to die, and need to take over my dad’s mission and locate more holy water for her in the past.
On the other hand, I’m interested in learning more about the man I’ve been seeing in my brief overlaps to the past. I’d like to learn more about him and the pain that haunts him.
Do you have a cherished possession?
My mother’s teardrop pearl necklace is very special to me. I put it on with me as I prepare to go into the past.
What do you expect the future will hold for you?
My “future” is really what will happen to me as I travel into the year 1381. I pray that I’ll be able to complete my mission to save my dad and sister. But I know I’ll face many challenges as I awaken in a new era that is unfamiliar to me. I can only hope that as I experience the past, I’ll be safe and be able to complete my mission quickly.
Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!
Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over 30 historical novels for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards, including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Awards. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband, busy family, and five spoiled cats. She loves to imagine that she really can visit the past, although she’s yet to accomplish the feat, except via the many books she reads. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com.
The story begins in 2010 as Elise, a woman who is aware that Alzheimer’s is stealing her away, flies alone to find her childhood friend whom she just located thanks to a new iPad with internet. Elise and Mariko became friends during WWII at an internment camp, but this story is unlike any WWII novel I’ve read. As I was taken back to 1943, I learned a lot about these camps I never knew, including the fact that they housed German Americans along with Japanese (and even some Italians.) While the camps accommodated families and allowed the residents to continue observing their cultural heritage through foods, activities, and language classes, they were still terribly unfair, especially to the children like Elise and Mariko who were born Americans and knew very little about Japan and Germany.
The way Susan Meissner presented the older Elise and her determination despite the terrible disease she struggled with was expertly done. The mystery of why Mariko and Elise were separated and unable to connect before kept me turning pages. Elise is a character you root for as she had to endure so many relocations to unfamiliar places—and unsafe places her family returns to Germany in the last year of the war—and the questions she inevitably had about who she was and where she belonged. And you will still root for the older Elise as well who married in order to find that sense of belonging and ultimately discovered she had to establish it for herself.
I love historical novels that teach you history, and this one certainly does that. But in my opinion, this is one of the best Meissner novels yet. Highly recommended.
I received an advanced reader copy from the author and publisher for the purpose of review. I have given my honest opinions.
Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. She is an author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include As Bright as Heaven, starred review in Library Journal; Secrets of Charmed Life, a Goodreads finalist for Best Historical Fiction 2015; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.